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Animated Help System leveraging DITA Disclosure Number: IPCOM000199290D
Publication Date: 2010-Aug-30
Document File: 6 page(s) / 121K

Publishing Venue

The Prior Art Database


In this article, animated help system which leverages Darwin Information Typing Architecture(DITA) files is presented. It is a live demonstration help system reading demonstration commands from DITA files. This idea separates function introduction and manipulation steps into two DITA Files - Comment File which stores the brief introduction text of the function and Command File which includes a set of sequential commands and alternative text for steps manipulating. One embodiment of the invention enables the help document developer to make use of the system to generate animation of procedural steps so that all the help user needs to do is to watch the demonstration on the screen to know how to best use the application. Another embodiment of present invention can achieve demonstration content customization by simply spying and translating the help developer's maneuvers on new components and then updating the demonstration DITA file automatically. Further, since Command File is consists of nature language and program language, the patent advantage of such demonstration help system is that it supports demonstration content searching and exploration. Other embodiment of the invention enables users to setup network communication between demonstrator and multiple receivers and then achieve remote real time interactive demonstration on the application program user interfaces. The present invention provides improvements over the prior art methods by leveraging DITA's characteristics, as effects of that, such help demonstration system is more intuitionistic and user efficient than hybrid text and graphic help system while much less space requirement, easy content searchable and content customizable than multimedia demonstration files while high performance remote real-time interactive than other prior arts.

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Animated Help System leveraging DITA


As the application program evolves in complexity,there has been an increasing demand for an efficient help system guiding users how to use the program in the best means. Accordingly, the help system evolves from plain text help system to mixed text and graphic help system and more recently, multimedia demonstrations.

First generation help systems are plain text descriptions. An obvious flaw with regard to plain text help system is that it may overwhelm users with text. The help text is sometimes hard to perceive or difficult to follow, especially in describing the manipulation steps on programs with graphical user interfaces(GUIs). In order to effectively identify the regions of the objects, locate the icons or instruct the steps involved in a particular procedure, plain text help system has to provide large chunk of description text. As a result of this, the amount of information that a user must read in order to effectively use the application is huge which increasingly leads to underutilization of application programs and user inefficiency as the user seldom has the time or the interest to read through the boring and sluggish plain text that is present in help.

Whereupon mixed text and graphic help system appears and achieves better user efficiency by providing snapshots of the GUI objects rather than a written description of the widgets. However, the mixed text and graphic help system is still not intuitionistic enough in assisting user regarding the maneuvers especially in complicated operations. Moreover, all references to the snapshot may have to be updated when GUI changes so that it corresponds to the latest actual GUI display.

Another more intuitionistic and effective form of help is multimedia demonstration representing manipulation sequential steps in motion. One of the problems with such multimedia demonstrations is that the size of a long time multimedia demonstration clip is usually large so that it has the demands or claim on computer processor speed, hard disk storage capacity and bandwidth of broadband access to the internet. Everywhere you turn on both the Internet and on the corporate network, video is breaking out all over. Multimedia data contains spatial and temporal redundancy, making the streams extremely inefficient and large in size. Another drawback of traditional multimedia demonstration is that it does not support the content search. A user turns for help may only want to be demonstrated the part regarding a specific function he interested. But obviously it is hard for multimedia demonstration clip to have accurate positioning of demonstration content. Yet another problem associated with the multimedia demonstration help is that it must be completely redone if the product is upgraded. Generally,the demonstration clips are recorded on a particular version of application. When the application is upgraded, new application GUIs are likely to be added and...